Today is Valentine's Day, the day for love and lovers. How is the world doing when it comes to love? Actually, it is not doing too well. The world economy is in deep trouble. Hard feelings between nations mar the peace, strong nations exploiting weak ones bring misery to vulnerable people, and the globe seems to grow smaller and smaller.
Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven industrial democracies meeting in Rome discussed how to tackle the worst global recession in generations without damaging free trade and hurting each other's economies.
. . .Tim Geithner made his debut in the G7 as US Treasury secretary and appears to have impressed his counterparts who were eager to learn more about his proposed public-private partnership in fixing the US financial system. The US would move “very quickly” to lay out the broad design, he told a press conference. He also said the US would announce “important new actions” to address the housing crisis in coming days.
“We had a good impression [of Geithner]. He’s a good debater, he’s easy to speak to, he’s frank and open,” commented Jean-Claude Juncker, Eurogroup chairman.
DNI gives threat assessment -- A former Rhodes scholar, Admiral Dennis Blair is the newly appointed Director of National Intelligence. According tothe Financial Times (2/13/09), "Blair will play a key role in the US administration as the person responsible for providing Barack Obama, president, with his daily intelligence briefing. The piece carries this headline: "Intelligence Chief Warns of Security Threat." To quote:
The top US intelligence official on Thursday warned that the global economic crisis posed the greatest near-term threat to US national security as the risk of “regime-threatening instability” grows around the world.
Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, said the risk of greater instability globally would grow as the economic and financial crisis continued.
“Time is probably our greatest threat. The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to US strategic interests,” Adm Blair told Congress in his annual threat assessment.
. . . The threat assessment marked a stark contrast with previous years when the focus was on terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq. On terrorism, Adm Blair sounded a note of optimism, pointing out that public opinion in the Muslim world was turning against al-Qaeda. He said that, though a threat, it was less capable because of the pressure the US had put on its leadership inside Pakistan.
And there is always Darfur -- "Critics Say U.S. Radio Program for Darfur Goes Soft on Sudan," is the headline from a recent investigative "side news" item from ProPublica. To quote:
Funded with a million dollars from the U.S. State Department, Radio Afia Darfur, a half-hour shortwave radio program, is beamed three times a day into war-torn Darfur, Sudan, and refugee-packed eastern Chad.
. . . But critics charge that the program -- meant to provide displaced people in Sudan with "accurate and objective information about their country" -- is instead broadcasting in a language most of its target audience doesn't understand and has watered-down criticisms of Sudanese officials (whom the U.S. government holds responsible for genocide in Darfur). An outspoken Darfuri-American news reader who repeatedly challenged the program's non-Darfuri editors has also been fired.
"Bugs ' Bombs" -- is from my CQ Behind the Lines (2/13/09) newsletter. To quote a paragraph with world news:
. . . An ex-assistant chief of the U.K.’s shadowy MI6 plays down jihadi terrorism, saying other dangers — pandemic bird flu, e.g. — are more serious, The Register reports — while Bloomberg hears China’s Ministry of Health venting puzzlement at eight human cases of bird flu unrelated to any known case in birds. Evidence is emerging that the rocket Iran used to orbit a satellite might be more powerful than first thought, New Scientist says.
- "Capital Wisdom from the East," an interesting short article in the (2/13/09) Asia Times, by Axel Merk on economic theory as it pertains to the U.S., China and Europe approaches to the crisis. It is a good read.
- "Obama diary: The first 100 days" What the Brits think about Obama:
The BBC's Washington correspondents track developments in the first 100 days of 's presidency.